By: Egbomuche Felix
And it all begins from here!
The draws for the most eagerly anticipated 2023-24 NPFL Nigerian Premier Football League season have been done and all 20 teams now know where and who they are playing on the opening weekend. Everyone begins on a clean slate as another chapter of the country’s top-flight football story is set to be written.
For some, it is another chance to chase glory and etch their names in the history books. For others, it is the start of another 38-game fight for survival. But for Sporting Lagos, it is an entirely new journey and if we are being honest, we don’t know what to expect.
This season will see a return to the league play format after an abridged playoffs format was used last season.
Champions, Enyimba will begin their title defense on September 9 with a home game against last season’s surprise package, Bendel Insurance while Remo Stars will make the long trip to Port Harcourt to face 2022 champions, Rivers United.
Both games are the picks of the bunch from an opening matchday that won’t be short on excitement.
Meanwhile, there’s a South-South derby in Yenegoa where Bayelsa United will play host to Akwa United.
The new-look Enugu Rangers will hope to get a perfect start against a Doma United side that only missed out on the championship playoffs on the final day of last season.
NPFL New Boys In Action
For new boys Sporting Lagos, their first-ever top-flight game is at home to Gombe United who have a new manager, Babaganaru with just two weeks to kick-off.
Heartland, Kano Pillars, and Katsina United, are the other new teams that have dates with Lobi Stars, Sunshine Stars, and Kwara United.
Ibadan is where it all begins for Shooting Stars and Plateau United who are opening their campaigns against each other in back-to-back season. In January, it was a six-goal thriller. If this one is anywhere close to that in excitement, we are in for a cracker.
Meanwhile, the final matchday-one fixture will see Abia Warriors slug it out with Niger Tornadoes.
Eight of the ten games would be on the NPFL Live streaming platform. Furthermore, the dates and times are subject to change due to broadcast arrangements.
2023-24 NPFL Matchday 1 fixtures:
Sporting Lagos vs Gombe United
Bayelsa United vs. Akwa United
Shooting Stars vs. Plateau United
Abia Warriors vs Niger Tornadoes
Enyimba Int’l vs Bendel Insurance
Rivers United vs. Remo Stars
Katsina United vs Kwara United
Sunshine Stars vs. Kano Pillars
Heartland FC vs. Lobi Stars
Rangers vs Doma United